It’s rare to see a movie about the origin story of two of the most famous athletes this country has ever known, Venus and Serena Williams. Yet that is what King Richard is. The Reinaldo Marcus Green film is about Richard Williams but it’s more about his mission as a father to never take no for an answer, to push his daughters to become champions. He was their guardian, their teacher, their champion, and their defender.   Obviously, he could only take them part of the way. Their own competitive spirit, talent and hard work made them who they are today. But the film works as their own stories as much as it does their father’s.

Young women, let alone young women of color, don’t have these kinds of role models in film very often. Theirs is a story of America at its best. It isn’t a story of failure or of impossible odds. It’s a story of red lights that were interpreted as green lights by Richard. It just never occurred to him that there were things he couldn’t wish for himself and his family. He was there to act as a barrier so that his daughters wouldn’t have to take as much incoming, even if they did and continue to do even as accomplished adults.

In film, we often see female characters who are given special powers at the outset. We don’t often see the journey getting there. That is what makes this story a hero’s journey in the classic sense. This is true for Richard himself, and it’s true for his daughters.

There were no bigger stars at the Critics Choice than Venus and Serena. They seemed surprised by it, which shows their humility, something the press has never credit them with. There has been a tendency to paint them as too ambitious or sore losers — but they didn’t get them right, not like the film King Richard does.

That’s probably because they don’t quite know what to do with their talent, their power, their ambition and their star power. But their father knew. He could see what no one else could imagine. Will Smith took the time to credit their mother, too, and in so doing his co-star Aujenue Ellis: